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Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

Sean Miller

Sean Miller

Compared to the lineups in other power conferences, the Pac-12 coaching lineup has a few key items missing on its collective résumés.

Namely, a coach who has been to the Final Four.

The Pac-12 is the only one of the top nine conferences — the Power 5 plus the American, Big East, Mountain West and Missouri Valley — without a coach who has been to the Final Four. Of the top nine conferences, six have multiple Final Four coaches.

That’s not to say the Pac-12 is bereft of quality coaches. Miller is widely considered the peer of the nation’s elite coaches, and his first Final Four appearance seems to be a matter of when rather than if.

The Pac-12 has two coaches who could claim to be the top guys on the bench in the modern era for their respective programs (Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, Colorado’s Tad Boyle). One Pac-12 school (Washington State) has the all-time wins leader from another conference school (Ernie Kent, at Oregon).

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak led one of the best rebuilding jobs of the last four seasons, and Oregon’s Dana Altman has done something in the last three years that’s never been done in program history.

While the Pac-12 lineup isn’t perfect, several schools — even not named Arizona — have reason to feel confident.

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Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

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1. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona:163-52, 79-29 Pac-12

NCAA record:17-8

Number to note:Not only has Miller been to either the Elite Eight or Sweet 16 in each of his last six trips to the NCAA Tournament, Miller has never been knocked out of the Tourney by a team seeded lower than third.

Why he’s ranked here:Miller is only 46 and on the short list of best coaches in the game. He’s seeking his first Final Four, but he’s already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

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2. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Record at Utah:68-64, 30-42 Pac-12

NCAA record:3-3

Number to note:In Krystkowiak’s four seasons, Utah has improved in KenPom’s ratings from No. 297 to No. 108 to No. 42 to No. 8.

Why he’s ranked here:By taking Utah to its second Sweet 16 since Rick Majerus left, Krystkowiak has resurrected the Utah program in an improving Pac-12. With Delon Wright gone, this is could be a critical season for Utah’s staying power.

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3. Dana Altman, Oregon

Record at Oregon:123-57, 55-35 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-11

Number to note:Altman has won at least 10 conference games in 18 of his last 19 seasons, the exception being his first season at Oregon in 2010-11.

Why he’s ranked here:Altman is the first coach to lead Oregon to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but scandal and faltering attendance have marred his program.

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4. Steve Alford, UCLA

Record at UCLA:50-23, 23-13 Pac-12

NCAA record: 9-9

Number to note: All of Alford’s teams since 2006-07 at Iowa have been ranked in the top 100 of both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here:UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 in each Alford’s first two seasons (with the assist of facing double-digit seeds UAB and Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32). With his deepest roster in Westwood, Alford will be expected to challenge for bigger prizes.

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5. Cuonzo Martin, Cal

Record at Cal: 18-15, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record:3-1

Number to note: In 2015, Martin signed Cal’s first McDonald’s All-Americans since 2003.

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Why he’s ranked here:Cal is expecting big things with Martin adding freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to a veteran team. Martin likely will coach a ranked team for the first time in his career.

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6. Tad Boyle, Colorado

Record at Colorado: 108-68, 46-42 Big 12/Pac-12

NCAA record: 1-3

Number to note:The Buffaloes went 7-11 in the Pac-12 last season, the first losing conference season for Boyle since 2007-08 at Northern Colorado.

Why he’s ranked here:An injury-plagued year for Colorado was a major disappointment after three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. Can Boyle get back on track?

7. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State

Record at Oregon State:17-14, 8-10 Pac-12

NCAA record: 0-3

Number to note: The Beavers ranked 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Tinkle’s first team at Oregon State overachieved to beat Arizona and UCLA and stay competitive in conference. His second team will have the sons of the best player in school history (Gary Payton II), the head coach (Tres Tinkle) and an assistant (Stephen Thompson Jr.).

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8. Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Record at Washington:270-159, 132-102 Pac-12

NCAA record: 8-7

Number to note: Washington’s 5-13 Pac-12 record was Romar’s first losing conference season since 2007-08 and worst league mark since his first season with the Huskies.

Why he’s ranked here:Washington has had its ups and downs under Romar, but the Huskies are currently in their most sustained funk of the last 12 years, missing the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons. Romar is either on the hot seat or headed for another turnaround.

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9. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford

Record at Stanford: 141-100, 58-68 Pac-12

NCAA record: 2-1

Number to note:Dawkins is a combined 4-23 against Arizona and UCLA since arriving at Stanford.

Why he’s ranked here:The Sweet 16 run in 2014 may have saved Dawkins job, allowing him to win his second NIT championship at Stanford last season.

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10. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State

Record at Arizona State:First season

NCAA record: 0-1

Number to note: In two seasons at Buffalo, Hurley was responsible for two of the top seven win totals in program history.

Why he’s ranked here:Arizona State believes it has a rising star in Hurley, who has only two seasons of head coaching experience. The family name — and the turnaround at Buffalo — carries significant weight.

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11. Ernie Kent, Washington State

Record at Washington State:13-18, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record:6-6

Number to note:Washington State’s seven Pac-12 wins (including two in OT) came by an average of 4 points per game. The Cougars’ 11 Pac-12 losses were by an average of 15.2 points per game.

Why he’s ranked here:Kent, who last coached at Oregon in 2010, coaxed seven league wins out of last year’s group. That was a rather impressive feat for what we thought was a ho-hum hire.

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12. Andy Enfield, USC

Record at USC: 23-41, 5-31 Pac-12

NCAA record:2-1

Number to note: The Trojans have ranked 25th and 26th in tempo in his two seasons at USC.

Why he’s ranked here:Enfield started building from the ground up at USC, building his program around local high school prospects. Those players are now sophomores and juniors. Progress must be made this season.